tv 2020 ABC January 31, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
they're blaming me. telling me that i killed him. i'm not a murderer. >> announcer: tonight on "20/20." their fates are sealed. accused of stealing, scheming, even killing. meet the designing women dealing from the bottom of the deck. first, the girlfriend on trial for murder with a stiletto. >> you see blood on your hands, the horror of someone you love. and that i did it. >> she never testified in court. but she's talking to us about the secret that led to his finish. >> he had a shoe fetish.
>> dressed to kill. plus, be careful who you break up with. >> this woman must have had crazy written all over here. >> announcer: when a woman releases her fury and one set of lies. even sending his naked photo to his co-workers. and that's just for starters. >> this is a death strength. this is, i am going to kill someone if you don't do what i said. >> tonight, we're stalking the stalker for the truth "designing women." here now, david muir and elizabeth vargas. >> good evening for a show called "designing women" you want killer shoes, literally and do we have them tonight. the most outrageous murder weapon we've come across in a murder trial that captivated the country.
5 1/2 inch heel. >> the question is was that shoe used for self-defense or murder. that's what a jury has to decide in a dunkrunken quarrel that go out of control. was she dressed to kill? a/* and the woman who used it is talking only to abc news. >> and details the jury never got hear. was she dressed to kill? >> her heel is being held here and testimony is going on. >> houston has some crazy, crazy crime. and this is one of the craziest things that i think a lot of us have ever seen. >> reporter: in a town infamous for its crimes of passion. >> guilty. >> equipmenty. >> reporter: -- the proceedings in this houston courtroom, may have set a new standard for strangeness. >> when you hear of someone dying, especially a brutal death, it -- they're being shot, they're stabbed. but no one ever thinks there's gonna be a stiletto heel in the middle of it, right? >> reporter: yes, whoever heard of assault by deadly footwear? the crime scene -- a ritzy condo
in this high-end high-rise. and the accused -- a petite, soft-spoken mom looking at life in prison. telling her story exclusively to "20/20." >> it's very surreal. it feels like it happened to someone else, and i'm just watching it. >> reporter: born in mexico, ana trujillo came to america with dreams of making it big. married twice, the mother of two young girls. she was a striking, vibrant young woman who was once the host of a community access show. and called herself anna fox. >> thank you for joining me. >> the producer said i had a bubbly personality. >> reporter: is that who you are? that tv host with that bubbly personality? >> yes, i am actually. i am usually very optimistic. i love life. i love friends. i just believe in being me. >> reporter: but those big dreams jumped the track as she landed on the hard side of town. jim carroll, met her at the lawndale hotel where they both once lived. what was she like? >> she laughed a lot. i mean, she was really cool.
she'd just talk about spirituality and the pyramids and ghosts and the tarot. >> reporter: she was a drifter, floating from job to job. wishing for the right things, attracted to the wrong people. >> she brought several men to the hotel. and finally i started talking to her, i says, "look, you know, we can't have none of that business going on here. >> reporter: and how many men would you estimate this was? >> four to six men. one of them was the professor. >> reporter: his name, stefan andersson. a naturalized citizen from sweden, who worked at the university of houston as a medical researcher. tell me about him. >> well he was very charming. he had a beautiful, young spirit. he was a professor and i really -- that is really what attracted me. >> reporter: how did he treat you in the beginning? >> oh, he was wonderful. >> reporter: in the beginning, it was all so carefree. here at the local taco shop, bodegas, they were regulars. and his friend adam benjamin remembers the early days of their romance. >> you can see stephan right
there. >> reporter: so what was stephan's taste in women? >> stephan liked attractive women. you know, heels with nice legs. but he didn't have girlfriends or anything like that. >> reporter: why do you think he felt so connected to ana? >> she was a bad girl. opposites attract. >> reporter: within weeks, she'd moved on up to his deluxe apartment in the sky. you wanted to marry him. >> yes. >> reporter: he wanted to marry you. >> yes. >> reporter: it wasn't all about love. it was also about sex. kinky so. he had a thing for shoes, and she was happy to oblige. what did he want you to do? >> he had a shoe fetish. he will like for me to, uh, kind of step on him -- >> reporter: step on him. >> well, walk on him. he liked a little bit of pain. >> reporter: but just months after they met, that happily ever after began to wear thin. >> his drinking started concerning me. i didn't know what it was to be
with, i say, an alcoholic. >> he drank a lot. he didn't seem to be an angry drunk. he seemed like a troubled and gentle soul. a "troubled soul" who, according to ana, had a hidden dark side. >> he was super sweet, and nice, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he would just turn into this other person. he would start accusing me of things. >> reporter: like what? >> why did you leave me? how come you didn't take me with you? >> reporter: what would you do, when he did this? >> i would not provoke him. i would just be quiet. >> reporter: did other people know about this side of him? did other friends see him like this? >> he hid it really well. >> reporter: it was a warm spring evening when ana and stefan go out for a night at club 5015. they share a bottle of wine chased by a few shots of tequila -- in this case, a combustible mix. >> that place, has live music on the weekends -- and it gets really crowded and it's a different crowd and it's nice and, he liked it.
he was feeling really good and he was enjoying himself. >> reporter: ana is dressed to kill in her five and a half inch blue velvet stilettos. >> i had the huge high heels that he loved for me to wear. >> reporter: it made you happy to buy a stiletto that he liked. >> i had to be very careful because the shoes were so high. >> reporter: surveillance videos paint a portrait of a good-time girl. take a look as she flirts with the stranger at the bar. then does a sexy chair dance. at first, she and stefan seem to have a good night out. but by the time she is ready to leave, he is not. >> i was going to leave early in the morning to go see my daughter. i wanted to leave and not stay out very long and he kept wanting to stay longer. >> reporter: that decision to go home is the spark, she says, that will ignite a firestorm. still, the last images captured at the night club, shows stefan calm, as he leaves the bar with ana.
was he wasted by the time you got to the cab? >> yeah. >> reporter: as the cab pulls up, rosemary gomez was at the wheel, accompanied by her husband, reagan. >> i was just taking a fare like i normally do. >> reporter: as the couple approaches the cab, reagan cannon said ana was loud and abusive. >> she said go get a [ muted ] cab, you know? >> reporter: in ana's version of the story, it was stefan getting aggressive. >> i just remember him looking at me and looking at me angry. >> reporter: angry, from ana's point of view, but not from the front seat where reagan cannon has some advice for the shy professor. i said, "are you a man or a mouse?" i said, "what are you doing letting her talk to you like that? >> reporter: it is past two in the morning when the taxi drops them off at dr. andersson's pad. >> you had a funny feeling something was going to happen? >> he squeezed my hand and said no, i'll be okay. i told him, i said, i have a feeling something is going to happen. look at these photos. coming home from the bar,
walking calmly to the elevator. it was the last time he was seen alive, but ana claims he was on the verge of a murderous rage. >> all of a sudden, he just turns around and has a complete different look on him. angry. >> reporter: as the couple sets foot inside the apartment, her life was about to change irreversibly, and his is about to end. >> he starts to pull me. i still have my shoes on. so, he grabs me by my hands, he bangs me against the wall. he kept saying that i was going to leave him, i wasn't coming back. he's screaming and yelling and ranting and just -- like, "i saw the way you were looking at those guys. when he threw me over the couch, i fell completely backwards, and my head hit, i saw black. >> reporter: did you feel like your life was in danger at that point? >> yes. >> reporter: in the darkness, she reaches for the only weapon she could find -- one of those blue stilettos. and starts striking. >> when i reach down to feel him
and you feel blood in your hands, that is a horror of someone you love. and that -- that i did it. accidentally i did it. i didn't even know that he was bleeding. he wouldn't stop. nothing is phasing him. he's unstoppable. coming up, action. she called in the crime. but did she commit it? >> i'm the victim. >> self defense? or crazy defense, when "designing women" returns. so let's do something about it. premarin vaginal cream can help it provides estrogens to help rebuild vaginal tissue and make intercourse more comfortable. premarin vaginal cream treats vaginal changes due to menopause and moderate-to-severe painful intercourse caused by these changes. don't use it if you've had unusual bleeding,
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>> yes, yes. he assaulted me. i hit him with my shoe and now he's bleeding. he started beating me up. >> reporter: when houston police received ana trujillo's desperate 911 call, they raced to her boyfriend's high rise condo and walked into a slaughterhouse. >> the crime photos in this case were especially gruesome. the blood spatter. the victim still lying there. it was a tragedy and it was horrible. the hallway was streaked with blood. the deceased, medical researcher stefan andersson barely recognizable from more than two dozen stab wounds to his head, face and neck. all from the heel of ana's blue velvet stilettos. his hair still on the heels. and on a glass table nearby, a macabre sign, trujillo's book of tarot, turned to the picture of death. instantly, the police officer was suspicious. >> he just yelled at me and took his gun out and he told me to -- to get down on the ground. i thought they were there to help us.
the millions of officers showed up. where was the ambulance? >> reporter: ana tells police andersson had attacked her, that she killed him in self-defense. but though she was drenched in blood, police say she doesn't look injured. she gives a rambling, disjointed statement. >> it's a meandering sort of my life up till now three hour tape in which she talks about what actually happened the night of very briefly. >> reporter: the cops have heard enough. they put her under arrest. >> you said you were such a fool. why? >> they're blaming me, they're telling me that i killed him. i am not a murderer! >> reporter: she is booked, posts bail. and it put under house arrest. but as the countdown to trial begin, houston was riveted. >> the murder weapon was a 5 1/2
inch heel. >> it was a bloody scene. >> reporter: each day. -- >> he remembers the attack. >> she knocked me out. >> reporter: remember the hotel where her friend jim carroll once lived? he told the most jaw-dropping tale as well. >> he said if anybody ever messed with, i'll get them with this. and it was a big stiletto heel. >> reporter: the trial begin was a burst of lights, camera and bravado. from the beginning, prosecutors pull no punch, focusing the jury on the killer heel, really the star witness in this case.
over and over. they portray the crime. >> it was a stiletto heel when you saw the x-ray it looked like an ice hammer. >> 50 wounds on his h neck. that was excessive to a lot of people. >> excessive what he was doing to me. he was enraged. he hit me on the head with my own shoe. >> reporter: even though his case is far from a slam bunk. her attorney stills seems confident. >> was she justifyed? whether she hit him once, 25 times, or 100 times. she felt her life was in danger the jury can't convict. >> reporter: to prove the case, they had to convict the jury andersson flew into a violent rage. these photos show bruises but it wasn't clear when she got them.
>> the defense wanted to portray her as a victim and someone who only did this because she had to. >> reporter: remember the surveillance video, the last video of him alife. he seemed calm and collected. his blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. >> we see people who drink a lot. act one way and then go home and act different. ana was alone. >> reporter: did the mild-mannered professor attack his girlfriend in a drunken rage? >> she talked about being smothered and he was grabbing her that's when she hit him with the shoe. >> reporter: but it's the murder weapon the $29 stiletto shoe that could come to ana's rescue. >> it's not a gun, not a knife. not a typical thing one would use to kill someone. that could help the defense saying she grabbed whatever she could. >> reporter: on the morning of april 6th last year the sun rose over a perfect spring day in
houston. closing arguments in the case were about to begin. >> it won't be until your break that she ceases to be the stiletto stabber. >> reporter: but the defense argues she was fighting for her life. >> as long as she fears for bodily injury or death she's justified. >> reporter: after two hours the jury was swift and unequivocal. >> we the jury find her as charged. >> reporter: she's now sentenced to prison. and although the shoe may fit she still refuses to wear it. >> we have opinions what we would or wouldn't do, why or how. when you find yourself in a situation, you don't know, either. because it's the situation.
>> reporter: you don't know what you're going to do when that happens? >> you think you do, but you don't. >> reporter: in spite of everything, you loved him. >> i'm mourning and i'm inside, and i'm in pain, and i have no closure. and it's not my fault. since we first began reporting on this case. we learned ana is now appealing but wouldn't be eligible for parole for 30 years from now. >> let us know what you think using the #2020. coming up all out war on her boyfriend. but wait until you see the photo she sent to his co-workers and a bucket list of lies she used to destroy him. >> the actual content of what they're writing is so stun
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here now, matt gutman and "designing women." ♪ >> reporter: while coaching his son's football team, joe good was bowled over. not by the play, but by the pretty blond on the sidelines, tawny blazejowski. >> you know, her son was on the same team as my son. and then we started dating after when i got divorced. >> reporter: joe and tawny could have been a modern day brady bunch. tawny is mom to four, joe is
father of two, each with a divorce under their belt, and together they found passion. >> she was a lot of fun. she was a great change from marriage. >> life with her was pretty good? >> she was awesome. >> reporter: and what the smiles on boozy caribbean cruises tell in pictures, tawny's love letters tell in words. >> she's very passionate and enthusiastic in everything she does. >> reporter: and were you ever in love with her? >> yeah, i was in love with her. >> reporter: their love blossoms here along the shores of sunny st. augustine, florida. life, for a time at least, is heavenly. joe lives here on paradise pond road, managing insurance claims for a national company. tawny, tucked away in this nearby cozy cul-de-sac. and after two years of dating, joe proposes. here's the ring and here's tawny's excited facebook post. but when joe drags his feet on setting a date, tawny drags him under. did you ever get any indication that there might have been something a little bit off with her?
>> there were red flags. she would get upset about things. >> reporter: it didn't go away? >> no. they kept on. the timeframe between when she'd get mad got shorter and shorter. and it escalated until finally she asked me, do you want me to just go ahead and cancel the vacation i've got planned for you? and i said, yeah, sure. i'm tired of this crap. >> reporter: the engagement is now very off. so you called her bluff? >> i said yeah, cancel it. immediately the phone rang, and she was, you know, are you sure this is what you want? because i got everything lined up that i'm going to ruin you. and i'm like, what? about a half hour after that conversation i get a text message on my phone that my yahoo password had been changed. >> reporter: the bond that almost led to marriage breaks in the time it takes to send an e-mail. tawny, scorned, hacks joe's personal e-mail account, and an epic cyber-stalking campaign begins. first campaign stop? joe's employer.
>> that night i just went to bed, got up the next morning real early, went into work, opened up my work e-mail and there's 14 e-mails that i was cc'd on and they were sent to the ceos of the company. >> reporter: saying what? >> pornographic pictures. >> reporter: and not just any pornographic pictures. one of them features joe in, well, happier times. we won't go any lower. but tawny would. she fedexes these packages all of the members of his company's board. inside -- sex toys, and condoms. as if your colleagues seeing you naked isn't the stuff of nightmares, surprise. the torment really begins with a polite knock on the door at 2:00 a.m. >> the night of october 19th things chang. >> what happened that night? >> 1:30, opened up the door and there's a police officer and he goes, mr. good? step on out here. so do you want to tell me what happened?
did you and your girlfriend have a little altercation tonight? i was like, "what are you talking about?" i've been here all night long. >> reporter: in the middle of the night, tawny drives to the sheriff's office. the pictures of her bloody face show what she told cops that night -- joe beat her. do you think she had it in her to whack herself in the face? >> oh yeah. slam a door on her face. >> reporter: she was able to exploit these systems that are there to actually protect us. systems that we have faith in. >> oh, yeah. i ended up going to jail that night. because here's the thing. the girl says a guy hit her. most people think, wow, the guy hit her. they don't think the girl's lying. >> reporter: despite joe's alibi, a judge slaps him with a protection order which tawny uses to get joe arrested a second time. she tells the cops joe is making harassing calls, threatening her life. how does she pull this off? she's become an expert in spoofing. a cyberstalking trick that makes
it seem as if joe is calling tawny, even when he's not. >> so, she now calling the police saying that i'm calling her, breaking the injunction order. >> reporter: then tawny spoofs again, making it appear as if joe's threatening her from his work number. and this time, she says she's got the voicemails to prove it. listen. >> i still have a gun. i know where you are and i'm coming for you. i should have killed you. >> reporter: we now know it's probably tawny digitally manipulating her voice. but back then cops hadn't caught on yet, and they arrest joe for a third time. by now, his employer has had it. they fire joe. during all this, joe takes a little vacation with his new girlfriend, mariela murphy. one wonders why he'd ever return. but when he does -- >> there's airport security asking, are you mr. good? yes, sir. step over here with me. they got a tip that i was smuggling drugs in from d.c. >> found nothing, of course. >> found nothing. i said, there's aspirin in there
and that's the strongest you're gonna get. somehow she found out that i was going to d.c. >> reporter: as if all this isn't frightening enough, tawny is about to tighten the screws, entering even more dangerous and demented territory. listen to this. it's tawny, calling a florida abuse hotline. >> there was allegations of him having sex with his daughter. and he's provided all his children with alcohol. >> reporter: but tawny's just getting warmed up. >> he, himself gets drunk, i think he's having sex with these young teenage girls because he's into child pornography. >> reporter: did that ever happen? >> no, no. >> reporter: but still, investigators don't believe joe. after all, he's been arrested three times. growing bolder, tawny now makes it dangerous to just know joe, finding fresh meat in joe's colleague at work, jenny robor, and, weirdly, joe's new girlfriend's landlord, doug duggan. >> she did a crimestoppers tip
to me, accusing me of allegations against my kids. >> reporter: making pornography with your children? >> yes, yes. >> reporter: so she accused you of being the most horrible type of pedophile. >> the things that are on there, i can't even repeat, they're so horrible. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine tawny stooping any lower, but she has. now involving the children of relative strangers. as for mr. duggan, joe's girlfriend's landlord? he also gets an anonymous threat, this time through the u.s. postal service. we now know it's another special delivery from tawny blazejowski. threatening to burn his house down. burn it down. >> yeah. i spent a couple of sleepless nights wondering if the house is going to burn this night. >> reporter: but soon, we turn up the heat on tawny. >> no one's talking to you. >> reporter: stay with us. ahhh-ahhhhhh. liberate your spine...
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>> announcer: back again with matt gutman and more "designing women." >> he was about to be stalked. bottle blond tawny blazejowsky had become a dangerous loose cannon. menacing 16 people from coast to coast for seven months. all connected to her ex-fiancee, joe good. how would you define what tawny did to you? >> it was total harassment. >> reporter: she got him fired. humiliated, blasting his nude photo to his bosses. arrested, accusing him of beating her. investigated, claiming he ran a children's porn ring. >> i did everything i could to stay away from her. she was one step ahead of me the whole time. >> reporter: cleverly convincing the sheriff's office that joe good was bad news. >> it was disturbing. every time you see a police car drive by, "are they coming for me?" you're on pins and needles all the time. >> reporter: not content with
just joe in her crosshairs, tawny was targeting his kids and even people she never met -- his co-workers, his new girlfriend, his girlfriend's landlord. when a desperate joe asked attorney bryan shorstein for help, shorstein flinched. you were afraid that she would come after you. >> you never knew who would be the target of what it is she was doing. does anybody want to get involved with this thing? >> reporter: but he took the risk. first, convincing the sheriff's office that joe was no victimizer. he was the victim. the first thing that came into our mind was, what are we missing? detectives george harrigan and shannon andrews began connecting the dots. >> she had manipulated law enforcement for so long, it was time that we get to the bottom of this, and we get the real story. >> reporter: and quickly, because now, tawny was turning her venom on more children. joe good's new girlfriend mariella reported an anonymous letter, threatening her then 17-year-old daughter, erin. >> it said, "this is what erin
will look like the next time mariella sees her, if she sees or even talks to joe good one more time." and attached was a picture of a mutilated body. >> reporter: what a horrific thing to send. >> this is a death threat. >> reporter: she's taken it a step too far. >> she was the stalker at one point. but when this happened, she became the stalked. >> reporter: stalked by investigators and soon enough, unable to hide behind her lies. then a breakthrough in the case -- finding out the anonymous reports sent to law enforcement hotlines originated from tawny's computer. >> you leave an electronic trail. that all came back to her. >> reporter: it was enough evidence to get a search warrant and show up at tawny's house. >> you knocked on the door, she was home. >> yes. >> reporter: what'd she look like? >> like a mother at home with her kids. >> reporter: totally normal? >> totally normal. >> reporter: but there was nothing normal about the tidy spiral notebooks tawny kept in her bedroom. turns out while her kids were studying, tawny was scheming.
this is the first notebook that you saw? >> yes. >> reporter: so you start flipping through it, and what goes through your mind? >> that i can't believe it's actually all here. >> reporter: seven notebooks. hundreds of pages. daily notes to herself. it's explosive evidence in tawny's own schoolgirl's handwriting. a meticulous list of her many lies. every detail of her sinister plan in plain ink. reminders -- print naked pic. call self a million times. even, "get picture of decomposed corpse." dates -- march 11th, filed police report on joe. march 21th, joe arrested at work. march 28th, made report of child abuse. and once completed, each dirty deed crossed off the list and in the margins, the haunting word, done. >> i certainly did not think i would walk out of that home and have a manuscript of everything she had done and planned on doing.
>> reporter: the cat had become the mouse and tawny had set her own trap. tawny was arrested that night. >> once we explained to her that she would be arrested, she wrote a list out of things for her ex-husband to do in reference to their kids. >> reporter: she was good at lists. >> oh, she was very good at lists. >> reporter: and finally prosecutors would present a judge with another list -- tawny's lengthy catalog of crimes. >> three counts of threats for extortion, four counts of aggravated stalking, one count of false report of abuse, child neglect or abandonment. >> reporter: tawny pleaded no contest to eight felony counts. the date before her sentencing, we went to tawny's house. her daughter answered the door. i wanted to know if i could speak to your mother? >> i mean, she's honestly not really available right now. >> reporter: and she would not make herself available. >> go away. no one is talking to you. >> reporter: at the courthouse the next day, we interviewed two of tawny's many victims.
if she were sitting here right where i am sitting, what would you say to her? she needs to know there's consequences because i think she thought she's above the law. >> cameras roll. >> reporter: and suddenly we spotted tawny walking out of the courtroom. this time, nowhere to hide. maybe you want to say something to your victims? anything? do you feel any remorse? >> i'm sorry. you ruined the people's lives right there. you said her kids with pedophiles. you have nothing to say? she would finally talk to the judge. the tormentor now begging for leniency. >> i am pleading with you, your honor, to please grant me forgiveness. i ask my victims for forgiveness, and for mercy, and for you to please not take me away from my children who need me.
>> reporter: her lawyers argue she has obsessive compulsive disorder and is bipolar, and that those disorders contributed to her crimes. but the judge has heard enough. >> that you be committed to the department of corrections for a period of nine years. >> reporter: nine years in prison. plus two years of house arrest and, get this, 19 years of probation. but still, for tawny's many victims, the anger and the fear are imprinted for life. joe good is forever transformed by one woman's obsession and those neat little notebooks. there were some things that were not yet crossed off. do you think if she hadn't been arrested she would have kept going? >> i'm sure she would have. >> reporter: joe good had been arrested three times for not having done anything wrong. >> correct. >> does the department feel guilty about that, or -- >> absolutely. it changed us forever as far as investigators. >> reporter: while he's waiting for those arrests to be expunged
from his record, joe's gone from making almost six figures to doing lawn work. if she were here right now, and you could ask her any question or tell her anything, what would you say? >> why couldn't you just let go? >> announcer: coming up an ex-stripper with a taste for sugar daddies. did she go gold digging with a hammer to the head? >> this is the adam's family. this is stranger than jodi arias. >> announcer: when "designing women" returns. you know those change, right? tattoos don't change. try credit karma. it's free and you can see what your score is right now. aren't you a little bit curious? i just got my free credit score! credit karma. really free credit scores. really free. i have got to update my ink.
>> we thought coming into this trial that it was going to be the next jodi arias trial. but this is "the addams family". this is stranger than jodi arias. >> reporter: are these the hands of a murderess? is this the face of a killer? or is 36-year-old marissa a victim? so battered by an abusive husband that she bludgeoned him to death, 38-year-old dale harrell with multiple blows to his head. >> the 36-year-old woman claims she was a victim of abuse but the prosecution is telling a different story. she could face the death penalty. >> reporter: killer or victim? that puzzle that has stumped phoenix, arizona, since january of 2009. from the beginning. just hours after the bloody attack that splattered the couple's master bedroom from floor to ceiling, marissa devault tells a story of constant abuse, verbal and physical. >> how did he hit you? >> with his fists. >> and where was he hitting on your body? >> all over the place.
and he just kept hitting me. >> reporter: marissa even stands to show police how she says her husband of 15 years raped her on the night of the attack, choking her before forcing her on the bed against her will. >> so you came home and didn't want to have sex and he got mad? >> you wake up and he's raping you, hands around your neck. >> he likes that, he likes it because he can hold me here. at times, crying. at appropriate times. seeming completely distraught. at other times, smiling in an uncomfortable way that a seasoned detective would probably look at, and at the very least, find odd. >> reporter: for police, it was an odd story and an odd victim. dale and marissa had met as teens in their hometown of lake havasu, arizona, a party town
known for outrageous spring breaks. they met up again years later in their 20's in phoenix. by then marissa had a baby. she was a stripper and according to her friend and nanny amy dewey, an opportunistic marissa saw dale as a catch. >> what was the attraction? >> i think that she saw a man who had just graduated from refrigeration school and had the potential to make money. it was always about the money. >> reporter: amy lived with them for a time before their marriage. >> was there any sense that dale was violent in any way? >> no. she would come home and try to pick a fight with him or try to provoke him and he would just tell her, "i'm not gonna fight with you, i love you, let's work this out." >> reporter: then came the day amy was fired after a chilling conversation, if true, would foreshadow a future grisly murder. >> she came to me and said, "dale is dreaming about having sex with you. i don't think that's
appropriate." i'm concerned for your safety. dale is dreaming about killing you with a hammer. you have to go." >> reporter: fast forward to one new year's eve. dale is in his bedroom critically wounded by, yes, a hammer. >> my husband was trying to hurt me, trying to strangle me. >> reporter: in the interrogation room, marissa plays the battered woman card. i hit him with both hands. >> reporter: but police don't buy her sob story. and prosecutors don't think a jury will either. >> opening statements today in the case of a woman accused of killing her own husband. >> reporter: the real motive for that tool-time thrashing, they say, was a big fat payday. >> marissa is a woman who likes money, but more than that she
likes easy money. >> reporter: prosecutors show the crime scene in vivid detail, displaying dale's deadly injuries. arizona republic writer michael kiefer is in the courtroom. >> you know, she put a fist-sized hole in the side of his skull. >> reporter: then the prosecution begins to reveal a secret life that marissa never spoke of. a past that includes working that pole at a strip club. >> the risky behavior. the boyfriends. the stripping. you get a picture of someone who doesn't have rules. >> living on the edge. >> yeah. wrt one of those lovers, flores, loaded with cash. they met on a website, sugar daddy.an elite dating website.
>> so you began having sex the first day you met. >> reporter: he loans her money, keeping track of every meticulous penny. she kept saying, i'm going to pay you back. this insurance money's going to come through. don't worry about it. >> reporter: there it is, what prosecutors believe is the real motive for the murder. a big life insurance policy on dale earmarked to pay back her sugar daddy. >> a new insurance policy that was worth a million dollars that >> reporter: it was not looking good for marissa. but her defense had yet to start. and when it did, a blockbuster of its own. until then, really nobody had said anything positive about marissa. >> nobody. ♪ who will be her lover >> reporter: but marissa had an ally, her oldest daughter rhiannon, named after the fleetwood mac song. and she has a devastating story to tell about her stepdad dale. >> her daughter came in and said, "yes, dad hit mom." and said, "yes, he had affairs and came home smelling of some other woman's perfume." and when the prosecutor brought
up, "well, didn't your mother hit your father as well?" she said, "well, not as much as my father hit my mother." that was damning. >> reporter: it was a tough defense for dale's family and friends to hear. but would it sway the seven women, five men jury? >> we know it was marissa devault in the bedroom with the hammer. you're not talking about who did it. you're talking about why did she do it? did she have any justification? >> do you find the defendant count one first degree murder, guilty? >> reporter: murder in the first degree. guilty. the jury ruling 36 year-old marissa devault, mother, stripper and gold digger, was now a killer too. >> it's unfathomable. why did dale die? it seems like they proved in court that he died for money. >> why did he put up with her, do you think? >> he loved her. she killed the one person who loved her.